Getting Divorced? Avoid Court or Wear a Gas Mask.

Family Law is truly the black eye of America.  It is a system created by lawyers to leverage domestic disputes for their advantage.  There is no one to hold the judge accountable for the judgments.  If both sides have lawyers or attorneys, they will consume all marital assets.  Their tactics, rhetoric and treatment requires a gas mask.  If you go pro se while the other person is abusive in nature, that person will use up almost all marital assets.  No matter what is done, if the relationship ends because one person is abusive and that person has enough funds to hire an attorney – that person will get their way no matter what.  When one person will not compromise and it is the same person that has filed and/or paid the most money while the other person is responsible by not spending beyond their means, one mistake going pro se will ALWAYS benefit the other person if there is no criminal record or criminal activity.

It is uncertain if things would be different if attorney representation was equal on both sides for my case.

Having an attorney secured financial support in my situation; however, that same attorney allowed the judge to impute income and administer below guideline child support.  Going pro se, the financial support may have been even less.  Shocked?!  It does not faze me anymore.

The only benefit of my current situation is that the abuser is in no way going to be awarded the marital home.

Through all this utter turmoil experienced, there is a silver lining.  There is no way that I will be forced to live under the same roof as the abuser.  Usually the abuser does not file for divorce, in my case the abuser did.  The abuser likes to maintain control and control is impossible without the victim under their watch usually; however, in my case, the abuser was a white-collar male who feared going to jail, because I would not turn a blind eye to his actions behind closed doors.  One time the abuser said to me, if you do not send out the Christmas cards, I will divorce you.  The following year he filed for divorce, but it was not over Christmas cards.

Hindsight is 20/20.  As a person who witnessed abuse and was subject to the abuse myself, videotaping the incidents would have been better than confronting the abuser hoping that the guilt would lead to changed behavior.  Confronting the abuser increased tension and pushed the abuser away preventing any real evidence collection while under the same roof.

Here’s the epiphany, someone who abuses another person either blames the victim or pardons their own guilt as justified.

An abuser cannot change.  They cannot change by extrinsic motivation or intrinsic motivation.  They will repeat the same mistakes, rituals and behavior in other relationships.  Some lessons are learned the hard way.  Do not learn the hard way like me.  If there is no abuse in your relationship go through mediation.  If there is no abuse in your relationship and you hire an attorney, by the end of it you will have a list of abusive interactions to add to the broken relationship as well.  Avoid going to court by filing for divorce first before your spouse (if divorce is truly your only option and your spouse is unpredictable).  Filing for divorce is one serious advantage of being the petitioner (see Divorce Strategy, Petitioner or Respondent).

If you are the respondent, convince the divorce filing spouse to seek mediation.  If you wait too long, the court attorney toxic gas will have already infiltrated all orifices of your spouse and there’s no way of reversing the contamination.

 

The Dichotomy of Darkness in Light

When you get married you are making a commitment.  Marriage is not this endless love nest or dating on steroids (it can feel that way in the beginning though).  It can take years before you really know a person, for me it took my relationship 6 years, before my other half turned to the dark side.  In my analysis, this switch was triggered by our first born, but anything can trigger it if the person you are married to has a trigger.  In my situation, maybe he didn’t know what love is, maybe he couldn’t wrap his head around the flaws, maybe he just did not want to put the effort into the marriage to make it work, maybe he still wanted to be married to the young girl he could control or maybe he let his guard down and darkness entered his heart replacing the love he had for me with love he had for himself instead.  The last four years with him were an unforgettable abuse whirlwind .  He gradually became a different person or he gradually revealed his true person starting at the birth of our daughter (trigger event).  Either way it triggers a discussion that has been floating around in various social media circles, the belief that darkness and light can simultaneously be in the same place at the same time.  Scientifically it is impossible; but metaphorically it is possible.

This is the challenge between the realist and the idealist, the dichotomy of darkness in light existing all at once like the yin and yang from the Chinese belief system of the Tao (even though it does in fact represent duality); however, I think looking deeper the symbol sums it up nicely; there’s not one portion of the symbol that is gray (mixture of light and dark).  Each section is separate, there is no blending of black and white.  Also, if ever there is imbalance like a mixture of light and dark (my interpretation) or too much dark for example, they call this vacuity in Chinese medicine, there’s an actual word that describes the consequences of becoming confused.  This tipping of the balance is also known as a depressed state of being.  My other half seemed to be bit by the Existentialism bug.  Wikipedia sums it up nicely, “people who face the emptiness and accept responsibility aim to live ‘authentic’ lives.” Ah ha!  The answer is clearer now than ever.

There is no such thing as darkness within light or light within darkness; however, if you are the type of person who likes to color outside the lines I think this metaphorical way of thinking helps you rationalize the things you feel guilty about.  This is not about shame, blame or judgment.  It’s about calling a spade a spade.  This faulty way of thinking is damaging relationships everywhere, not only in marriages.  This way of thinking throws off the balance of life.  A person who aims to live by their authentic sinful self throws morality to the wind and embraces immorality as a characteristic of living.  Guilt is not a disposable feeling.  Guilt has a purpose.  When you throw away a purposeful feeling that is only associated with human beings, is not that regression instead of progression?

Don’t Let Divorce Happen to You

There are many words circling in my brain.  Disillusionment, frustration, duped, disbelief, hurt, shocked, sad and empty.  Emotional stages of divorce vary for everyone.  Since separation, acceptance was the immediate response to the tragedy of my divorce considering the abusive history that ensued once the first child was born.  The feeling was mutual when  I received the papers.  Was the first born a trigger?  It felt like the first born ignited something.  The change was gradual at first.  After having a baby, the woman goes through a major transition physically and emotionally, I was no different.  I was not myself, no woman is; however, no amount of stress is any excuse for abuse.  He was not himself either.  Men do not have the babies; however the change can impact men in unknown ways.  It could be the laws of nature, it could be genetics or it could even be the environment that fosters the change; whatever it is, the abusive spouse is not justified in their poor treatment of the other.  When you get married, you are supposed to work through difficulties like speed bumps, so I thought.

If your spouse has unacknowledged abuse in their past, brace yourself you will be facing roadblocks as tall as mountains adorned with caution tape and floodlights, that’s what happened and why I find myself getting divorced.

As a little young thing, I did not pay attention to any of the signs during courtship.  Young people, are accepting of flaws in others, because they lack the experience to discern otherwise. That was me.  I bought his story hook line and sinker.  He fell in love with a girl who hung on his every word and did whatever he wanted to do.  He became her ideal mate, not because those characteristics were apart of who he was, but because he desired to be that person for her.  It sounds like an everyday love story.  Both people should make each other better.  That sounds good.  It sounds RIGHT.  It is like some famous quotes, “You complete me” from Jerry McGuire or “It’s always better when we’re together” from singer songwriter, Jack Johnson.  This understanding of companionship is downright false and misleading.  It is imperative that each person in the relationship is who they say they are.  Do not change to be “better.”  Do not put on airs.  Do not try to be anything for your partner other than yourself.

If you use any other strategy for love your relationship will end and if you make the mistake of getting married it will end in divorce.  Do not let divorce happen to you.

After, the makeup second child, he decided to finally end it when the makeup child was incubating in my womb.  I was so angry after I found out I was pregnant and that he reverted into the same pattern/person that he was before we made up, so much so, that the second child conception was the last time we were together.  It was dreadful.  He was bent on acting like everything was okay publicly; however, at home the emotional abuse ran rampant and there was no end to conflict.  After the baby was born, he filed for divorce.

That little bundle immediately became my silver lining.  I was incredibly thankful that I had this little parting gift, but the pain inside was just as riveting because I knew the baby and my oldest would not experience the nurturing environment I had while growing up.

The relationship spun out of control.  It became so wound up after the first child, the reset button remained blinking, begging to be pushed.  Words and actions gradually ate away at the marriage stronghold.  The person that committed his life to me, all the sudden forgot who he was and what we were about.  All that mattered was his way and objections would be met with avoidance and/or rejection/conditional love.  My vision was clouded.  The constant changing person before me left me off-balance unable to regain my footing.  My emotions got the best of me.  Divorce was not even in the picture before children; however, children changed the family dynamics and conflict can ruin a marriage.

Do not pretend to be someone else.  Do not let conflict ruin your marriage.  Do not be anyone, but yourself. Talk about everything.  Practice forgiveness daily.  Poor into your marriage like it is the very thing that gives you life.  Compromise.

Divorce is Devastating – Attorneys with a conscience are difficult to find

When you are thrown into a divorce situation you expect people that are acquainted with the process to uphold a certain standard.  You expect judges to judge rightly. You expect lawyers to know the law, understand financial obligations and have empathy concerning custody.  Newsflash!  There is no standard.  I have read about certain judges in family law that have intervened in court when the attorney or attorneys steamroll their clients; those judges are a rare and dying breed.  The public has no idea what awaits them if divorce comes knocking on their door which is why things are the way they are.  You don’t know what you don’t know.  It’s impossible to discuss family law without talking about the people that make family law possible – the country’s representatives.  There have been only two US presidents with divorces in their past, both celebrities, Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump (no attempt to tackle family law so far).  The divorce list is quite expansive for the run of the mill politician in the senate, congress or city government.  It is surprising that family law is operating like the Wild West when so many of our supposed leaders have experienced this corrupt system, because they too are divorced.  Did they reveal the problem to the last US president, Barack Obama, who identifies with lawyers since he was one?  Lawyers are excellent politicians.  He could have done something to impact positive “change” for family law “change” was his campaign message after all, but he didn’t come near family law with a ten foot pole.  Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against lawyers only something against a system that allows lawyers to take advantage of others.

Going through a divorce destroys the fabric of family.  Divorce is devastating to society because it causes so much turmoil in the nuclear family, extended family and other relationships.

Divorce is necessary in some cases; however, filing for divorce lately has become as easy as selecting and purchasing something online.

America is so busy with vices a sort of forgetfulness sets in when it concerns the government until presidential elections of course, that’s when everyone is fired up about their “ideal” candidate and all the sudden they are a political expert. Americans also regain consciousness about the government when terrorists decide to kill American lives…  I wonder what Abraham Lincoln would say if he looked at the United States government as it is now.  It’s too bad more politicians do not think about America’s early predecessors while they are in office.

Family law is a fairly new practice.  It developed around the time Franklin D. Roosevelt was president (it is uncertain if FDR influenced current practices in anyway).  The New Deal wasn’t the only thing that happened during his presidency, Mr. FDR also had an affair.  When ideals are lowered in any government it ricochets across the country and impacts the people within it.  These various fractures happen because government is a source of leadership for a country.  It provides governing structure.  It provides infrastructure.  It provides protection against threats. It provides its constituents a certain way of life.

Government is no different than any place in society, it is a place where mistakes are made.

The concern is when those mistakes are covered up, stamped out, ignored, avoided and life continues without a reset button or a corrective action.  Status quo is no longer an option, the health of society is at stake.

There are some people that understand the health risk of divorce on society.  These people try to change things for the common good in government; however, their efforts often get squashed by the opposition, because it destroys everyone else’s system or change is limited by state (it appears Senator Jeremy Ring from Florida understands part of the problem, but can’t get a bill to address it).  That’s why no one in family law with a conscience speaks up.  By speaking up they destroy their career, their connections and their life.  Some in family law that have a conscience will either leave family law and go with another career after they’ve witnessed too much pain or they will eventually become complacent and accept how things are by limiting their contribution to the problem or try to balance things out.  Others, the formidable others, will capitalize on people’s pain without remorse.  I hope if you must be in a divorced situation with attorneys, you come across a lawyer with a conscience, because that truly is your only hope if attorneys are involved (see also: Going Pro Se in an Attorney’s World).

10 Questions to Ask Before Marriage

Divorce is looming for anyone that jumps into marriage without asking the right questions. Know thyself and know thy future spouse.

I’m compelled to write in the first person this time around.  Divorce emotions are coming out in full force and what needs to be written needs to be personal.  A drawn out contested divorce such as mine is difficult.  My responsibility has tripled since separation (my youngest was one month old).  It is too bad my younger self was not given a heads-up on marriage complications once children come along.  Now that my youngest is almost a toddler and teething; my patience has reached an all time low.  The drool, incessant cries and elevated temperatures come at nightfall and make me want to scream, because I never wanted to face parenting alone and I am so dead tired.  I never thought I could have such negative feelings as I do for the father of my children, not in a million years.  Oh wait, it was even worse when we were under the same roof after my first was born, because of the abuse that ensued once we both went back to work.   (Both parents working is another topic for another blog.)  I stayed quiet about the abuse in all areas of my life, because I thought every relationship has its peaks and valleys – the thoughts of an optimist.  By acknowledging how bad it was then, I already feel better in the present.  I only wish I had been more of a realist than an optimist.  My naïve nature during it all kind of disgusts me now.  If I had been more of a realist and faced the music I probably would not have had a second child from the seed of Jekyll & Hyde.  It hurts my heart severely to reflect on that notion.  I love my children and I wanted four children before the tides changed.

Oh, there is so much advice I have for my younger self.  No one was giving the advice I needed and I knew several newlywed blended families at the time our camouflaged frayed knot was tied.  Do people hold onto their past stories in secret, because they want to maintain a happy image to bury the hatchet or do people temporarily forget the divorce turmoil amid new bliss and love?  I hope it is the latter and not the former.  I also want to be the person that boldly remembers, so that I can help people make good decisions and minimize repeating a history full of mistakes (sometimes mistakes are inevitable and in a strong relationship mistakes make the relationship even stronger instead of destroying it).  FYIDivorce.com aligns with that goal.  If I could write a letter to my younger self, it would go something like this:

Dear Optimist,

You have no idea what you’re doing when it comes to marrying someone, especially if you have known them for less than a decade or even less, only two years.  You should wait and develop your career and goals before jumping into anything.  YOU HAVE TIME.   You have lasted this long without a committed relationship, what is a few more years?  Please try to answer the following questions before you say “I do,” acquire a marriage license and decide to make all your life decisions with someone else steering the ship.

  1. Does the person make you uncomfortable in public situations?  If the answer is “yes.” Please move on and kick this one to the curb before there is a proposal.
  2. Does the person isolate you from others in a group? If the answer is “yes,” please move on immediately.  This is learned behavior from a dysfunctional family.
  3. Does the person talk about themselves most of the time? If the answer is “yes,” this does not mean they’re a good conversationalist, it means they’re self-centered and prideful.  Take a hint, the person won’t change once your relationship is more serious.
  4. Does the person push your physical boundaries?  If the answer is “yes,” they’re indirectly disrespecting you and they will do the same thing in different contexts later.  Do not rationalize the behavior by saying “By doing this it makes things more fun or this is an indicator there will never be a dull moment.”  This is the biggest red flag, do not stay.  End it.
  5. Is the person critical of anyone in your family?  If the answer is “yes,”  stay clear of danger!
  6. Have you asked every question you can think of about their past?  If the answer is “no,”  make a list and start checking them off.  Write down the answers, so you have a record.  The history of a person determines how they will react in the future; it’s in their (nature) and in their learned behavior from childhood (nurture).  Make no mistake, familial ties run deep.  Any questions avoided, run like the wind and do not look back.
  7. Does the person have a busy schedule or are they spending most of their time on you?  If they are spending most of their time on you; they don’t have a real job, they are not living on their own nor do they know how to manage a relationship when real life hits them in the face.  They are only making you feel special, because they don’t have anything else better to do.  Do not be a fool.  Take it for what it is and say goodbye.
  8. Do you get along with the person’s family and do they feel like family?  If the answer is “no,” and all the previous answers direct you to move on, what are you waiting for?
  9. Has the person done illegal things in front of you?  If the answer is “yes,” you should no longer look to the last item on this list!  That qualifies as corrupting.  There is no way this person should even be dating you much less become your spouse.
  10. Do you often yield to that person’s desire?  If you say “yes,” you should know this person is controlling and has no interest in sharing a world, but wants to monopolize your life to feel validated and secure.  Once you show you have a voice, they will turn on you. Get out while you still can!

Please do not take this advice lightly.  You have a life ahead and every decision you make impacts your life.  Granted, even the bad decisions can make you a better person, but please avoid some turmoil by really understanding what it means to marry the wrong person.  Being with the wrong person is worse than being single and truthfully being single can sometimes be better than having a relationship.

With enduring love from your older wiser self ,

Realist

I wish I considered the 10 questions above before marriage.  Do not avoid these questions.  I read so many relationship books it makes my mind spin and I wonder if someone gave me this advice whether it would have fallen on def ears.  It is very possible it could have.  I drank from the love cup, it happens to the best of us.  All the questions above contributed to the demise of my marriage, because they all impact parenting.  When there are only two people in a relationship there is less conflict, especially if one person is always agreeable. I was the agreeable one.

Co-parenting with Jekyll & Hyde

Divorce is not pretty.  The more time goes on the more terrible the other person’s character becomes.  It’s scary.  What’s even more terrifying is that you are faced with this new person every time the court forces you to exchange the children.  This ache starts to happen in the pit of your stomach, you get a bad taste in your mouth and slowly you can feel your facial expression change from happiness while being with your children to utter disgust and contempt (See the blog: Divorce? Beware, it’s an Emotional Jungle)  as your feet take you closer to Jekyll & Hyde.  This response is totally natural after any type of abuse has occurred.  Luckily the disgust and contempt does not get plastered on your face as a permanent mask, at least this has not happened yet.  Faith and forgiveness are the only practices that quickly wash these negative emotions away inside and out.

It would be nice if everything could be washed away immediately, but that is not real life.  Imagine having someone verbally assault you every day and then having to face them?  Or even worse, that same person comes back the next day and says, “I just want peace and whatever is best for the children.  Why won’t you work with me?”  The following day the insults come whizzing by your head once again.  Every fiber in your body wants to scream out in agony at the pain those words cause.  Silence; however, is the only loyal friend in this situation.  This silence and limiting communication with the other parent is more accurately called parallel parenting not co-parenting.  Without any vocal words, somehow the other person maintains their cool on the outside and the world for a moment feels safe to the one verbally assaulted at least half the time.  There is absolutely no one to help in this situation, especially after supervised visitation is dissolved.  Side note: qualifications are not required to be a supervisor of visitation other than a simple completion certificate, but the service still costs an arm and a leg to maintain.  Supervised visitation is a story for another day.

Co-parenting with a Jekyll & Hyde type is rough.  When days seem to get better this type of person wheels you back to their shadowy world with very little effort.  Could be like quicksand; although, once quicksand consumes you, there is no coming up for air after.  It is more like a turbulent ocean. On some days the serenity and calmness take you back to a place of peace; however, once the tide changes and the weather shifts things can get quite dangerous and you wonder if you can survive another day of chaos.  Is this the happy co-parenting image that people are preaching about in the divorce industry?  This is what really happens in a high conflict divorce, but I do not hear the courts or anyone else talking about it.  Attorneys and the courts put fuel on the fire.  Be extremely thankful you are not in a divorce with a Jekyll & Hyde person, it’s really difficult. Faith and forgiveness are the only practices that help co-parenting or parallel parenting in this type of relationship.

Divorce Agony – The Wild Horse

If your divorce has lasted longer than a year, you will eventually stumble upon divorce agony.  There are so many emotions that are wrapped up in divorce.  I have described them as an emotional jungle and the 5 stages of grief, but once your divorce hits the long-term divorce mark such as over a year you will eventually reach divorce agony.  When you have been in a period of prolonged pain that twists your insides into new shapes, this feeling is agony.  The pain is intensified if the estranged spouse is an abuser (neglectful, emotional abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, etc.).

Divorce agony is like a wild horse confined to a cage and looking out to see a beautiful green pasture beyond its reach; the longing to be free is a desire that goes unsatisfied.  Confinement creates a sense of claustrophobia.  Things are cramped.  Space is closing in.  Turning around and around, but there is nowhere to go, but to stand in the same place looking out from the same viewpoint.  Sweet scents come in on the breeze which provide some minor relief; however, no real resolution to the situation.  There are moments when freedom seems obtainable; maybe someone from the outside looking in gives a glimmer of hope, however the moments are short lived and quenched quickly with reality.

Divorce with children is that reality in a contested divorce.  Divorce with children are those steel bars that do not seem to go away.  Children themselves do not create the steel bars that pin in the wild horse that longs to be free, the courts do.  The divorce industry calls these steel bars coparenting.  These steel bars are the constant reminder of the divorce state of your life.  The issues that caused the divorce in the first place are still active and relived through coparenting and regular interaction with the person that caged you in the first place which creates agony.  Coparenting itself is not the problem; however, the system does not customize coparenting according to relationship challenges.  Happy coparenting cannot and will not exist in a contested divorce, do not be fooled.  Also, it is common for a divorce to morph from an amicable divorce to a contested divorce very quickly when emotions run hot, be very careful there is no way to predict the outcome or plan for this switch.

Everyone will respond to divorce agony in their own way.  If you are susceptible to substance abuse, stay clear of any situation that will expose you or tempt you.  Do not let divorce agony impact your relationship with your child or children.  If you can afford counseling consider it and schedule it.  If you cannot afford counseling find an outlet, so that you are not facing this dreadful emotion alone.  By joining a divorce group, talking with friends, starting a new hobby, writing or journaling you can better cope with divorce agony and tame the wild horse.